Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 19, 2017 – Diego Vivero of Ecuador and Bijoux, owned by Javier Estrada, bested a four-horse jump-off on Sunday afternoon to win the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) Week Six $50,000 National Grand Prix on the derby field at Equestrian Village. Vivero, who has only been competing on the Dutch Warmblood mare for less than a year, believes that things have finally clicked for the two of them and this victory is only the beginning.
“We are a team now. I have had this mare for only 10 months and she is really moving forward. She is very, very fast and very brave,” said Vivero. “I am very happy to win because it is very competitive here. The best riders in the world come to WEF so it is very difficult. I am very proud of this win.”
The Richard Jeffery-designed course seemed a little daunting for some in the initial round of 14 horse-and-rider combinations, but not for Taylor Land and For Edition, who were the first to go clear in round one.
“On a big field like this you have to ride a bit stronger than on dirt,” said Land. “It wasn’t a huge track, but it rode a little scopier than it walked.”
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Silver Raven Farms’ Akuna Mattata were the next to go clear, assuring a jump-off and Vivero’s round made it an international one. Leslie Howard, who was eliminated on her first horse, had better luck with her second mount Street Legal, owned by Annie Phillips, who jumped clear.
Land blazed the trail going double-clear on the 17-year-old veteran grand prix horse, owned by Jay Land, stopping the timers at 36.56 seconds.
“I wanted to go smoothly and try to be fast in the jump-off, but my priority was going clear and he was great,” said Land. “I wish Diego had gone a little slower, but I was still very happy. It worked out. My horse is a fairly new ride for me, but he’s been amazing.”
Shahinian-Simpson followed Land and negotiated a double-clear in 36.62 seconds for third place. Vivero was next and on a mission to win, shortening the track to finish on 34.44 seconds.
“My plan was to go fast,” said Vivero. “My mare is fast and I am very competetive; I really like to win.”
Leslie Howard was the final rider who could unseat Vivero time-wise, but she and Street Legal had two rails down for fourth place.
$50,000 National Grand Prix
Place / Rider / Horse / R1 Faults / R2 Faults | Time
1. Diego Vivero / Bijoux / 0 / 0 | 34.44
2. Taylor Land / For Edition / 0 / 0 | 36.56
3. Nicole Shahinian-Simpson / Akuna Mattata / 0 / 0 | 36.62
4. Leslie Howard / Street Legal / 0 / 8 | 35.20
5. Jonathon Millar / Calvin Klein / 4 | 86.30
6. Cloe Hymowitz / Cylana / 4 | 86.63
7. Peter Lutz / Cheri de Papignies / 4 | 88.61